A huge effort to collect and analyze data on the devastating floods has been severely undermined by a lack of strategies for disaster management and the dissemination of information, scientists and disaster experts have said.
According to SciDev.Net, much of data gathered by Pakistan Meteorological Department’s flood forecasting division has not been put to good use.
It merits mentioning here that Meteorological Department has an extensive network of weather radars along the Indus River as well as an Indus flood forecasting system that uses computer modeling, however manipulation of this data was not done to get the best out of it.
Critics also say there are a large number of agencies working without direction and coordination, and often duplicating efforts. In addition to the NDMA, the Pakistan Meteorological Department, and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), there are almost a dozen central and provincial agencies engaged in flood relief.
The flood forecasting division gives authorities 24-hour warning of monsoon flooding. Its efforts are now being complemented with data on the extent of flood water and damage from the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain development (ICIMOD) in conjunction with the US and Japanese space agencies.
An ICIMOD team is overlaying the flood data with maps of villages and crops. ICIMOD then relays the information to SUPARCO, as well as to international organizations and the UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response, UN-SPIDER.
The Pakistan government and army also use the maps to help them decide how to respond.
Scientists said data gaps should also be plugged. For example, meteorological radar coverage should extend across the entire country, said Anjum. And ICIMOD scientists say on-ground information, such as the lengths of bridges or the number of animals and crops, still needs to be assembled and combined with satellite data.